Proverbs 21:17

ESV Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.
NIV Whoever loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and olive oil will never be rich.
NASB One who loves pleasure will become a poor person; One who loves wine and oil will not become rich.
CSB The one who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will not get rich.
NLT Those who love pleasure become poor; those who love wine and luxury will never be rich.
KJV He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man: he that loveth wine and oil shall not be rich.

What does Proverbs 21:17 mean?

Solomon (Proverbs 10:1) warns that living for pleasure causes a person to become destitute. The modern world, in many ways, has made it easier for people to be lost in mindless entertainment. Many individuals live for pleasure, instead of better investing time and finances. Obsession with pleasure—with pleasing oneself in the moment—is also a sign of spiritual weakness. Second Timothy 3:2–4 warns about this as a symptom of a world moving away from God: "…people will be lovers of self…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God."

Similarly, 1 Timothy 5:6 notes, "she who is self-indulgent is dead even while she lives." In Ecclesiastes 2:1 Solomon testifies: "I said in my heart, 'Come now, I will test you with pleasure; enjoy yourself.' But behold this also was vanity [emptiness]."

Wine and oil were used at feasts (Psalm 104:15; Proverbs 27:9; Amos 6:6). The host and guests drank wine, and the oil meant here was a perfume poured over the head of an honored person. Hoarding such things, instead of investing them, would not be an effective use of resources. In another way, those who love luxuries ("wine and oil") such that they prioritize them will be more likely to waste their resources and become poor.
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